skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 76952 Find in a Library
Title: Order in the Court - Freedom in the Newsroom - Ending the Fair Trial/Free Press Controversy
Journal: Judges Journal  Volume:20  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1981)  Pages:14-17,47-48
Author(s): F W Friendly
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Because the media can explain to the public controversial judicial decisions, and because the justice system protects freedom of the press, this article argues that a dialog between the judiciary and the media is needed.
Abstract: The controversy between the judiciary and the press over the interpretation of the first and the sixth amendments, which often are in conflict, is damaging to both parties. Judges and journalists seem in many ways to be mirror images of each other. Both seek independence and fight all concepts of external accountability. However, in a political environment where abdication and malfeasance by the executive and legislative branches of government have caused both the press and the judiciary to grow so powerful, there is a great need for some kind of accountability for both institutions. Between the unacceptable extremes of political responsibility and absolute independence is the middle ground of moral or ethical accountability. The press and the judiciary both need to reveal how things occur and why they happen the way they do. For example, according to a 1978 survey, 43 percent of the respondents blame the courts for not reducing violent crime. Similarly, some people cannot understand how a reporter, having access to 'confidential sources,' can refuse to testify about a serious crime. However, most judges are unwilling to speak to the media or write articles about courtroom controversy. It is just as difficult to arrange an interview with the editor-in-chief of a major newspaper. The court needs the medium of the press to explain decisions that have been thrust on courts. One hopeful sign is the developing practice of televising appellate arguments. This innovation already has begun to educate the public about how the courts function. Courts could also help ease media deadline pressures by providing 1-week alerts on forthcoming decisions so that reporters can be prepared; newspapers and television stations can then allow space and time for indepth analysis. Supreme Court Associate Justice William Brennan's 1979 address at a university is quoted and discussed, and limited statistical data are included.
Index Term(s): Courtroom proceedings broadcasting; Freedom of the press; Judges; Judicial process; Press relations; Right to fair trial
Note: Article adapted from a speech delivered by the author to the 1980 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.